SOL Cocina, 251 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Newport Beach; (949) 675-9800; www.solcocina.com
Daily (including weekends), 3-6 p.m.The Deal:
$3 off wine by the glass, $3 beer, $5 house margaritas and well drinks, $6 shots of blanco tequila, $10 tequila flight. Various specials on happy hour snacks (called antojitos).
A wall of windows overlooking busy Balboa Harbor (if you
prefer to boat in, you can call the harbormaster and ask for the
adjacent slips), with warm tile and a caged firepit indoors. The crowd
is eclectic Newport: moneyed people dressed more nicely than expected,
beach bums down from nearby Huntington, and folks from hither and yon
who've stopped in for a drink.
SOL means tequila; they have a wide-ranging list of tequilas
at various ages. A flight involves three blancos picked by the bar (one
of them was Corralejo on our visit, Gustavo's old standby). House
margaritas are the best bet, with El Jimador tequila (bad for sipping,
fine for mixing). Micheladas come in gigantic fishbowls; add some of the
chile de árbol sauce provided to each table to wake them up a little.
The Food: Antojitos
is Spanish for "little whims"... in other words,
snacks. Be aware that the happy hour menu has happy-hour specials on one
side and regular antojitos on the other. While Edwin loved the
chipotle-piloncillo goat cheese
, the panuchos (masa turnovers filled
with squash and cheese) were the biggest hit. Tacos are all very good,
though calling them "street tacos" is disingenuous when they're served in a nice restaurant.
Newport is awash in happy hours, and Newport is awash in
Mexican restaurants, but historically the two haven't gone together in a
good way, until now. Service was that perfect OC blend of laid-back and
sincere. Come in and kick back, sip your drinks slowly, and actually be
happy during happy hour.
251 Pacific Coast Highway, Newport Beach, CA